Plant Life Balance

Get the good dirt on soil

Healthy soil means a healthy garden.

The saying “boring as dirt” seems both harsh and inaccurate. Soil is the medium in which plants and organisms grow, is essential for water retention, and helps keep the atmosphere in check – so really, soil is wonderfully intricate and complicated.

Soil is actually full of liquids, gases, mineral elements, fungi, bacteria, and a whole bucketload of microfauna keeping the planet alive and growing. There are different soil horizons stored the further down you dig, to the point where it records stories of the past like floods, fires, droughts, climate change – it’s all there underfoot.

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¿Las lombrices 🐛 se comen las raíces? • Entre jardinerxs 👨🏻‍🌾👩🏽‍🌾 siempre hay mitos, uno de ellos es que las lombrices se comen las raíces de las plantas 🌱. Pero si esto no es cierto, ¿Qué hace esa lombriz en las raíces de esta planta 🌱? • Así como la planta va cambiando y regenerando hojas 🍃, también va cambiando y regenerando parte de sus raíces, por lo que hay raíces que se desarrollan y otras que van muriendo 💀. Las lombrices comen materia orgánica vegetal en una primera fase de descomposición 💩, no la comen viva y fresca, por lo que sólo comen raíces muertas. • De hecho, si encontras lombrices 🐛 en tus macetas o jardín, es una muy buena señal, ya que hay un ecosistema regenerandose y ellas se están encargando de que el suelo 💩 este nutrido y aireado 💨. • ¿Qué otro mito de la jardinería conocen? Les leo.

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Because soil is so important, you need to make sure it’s living its best life in your garden so your plants grow big and beautiful. Here’s how…

Acidic vs alkaline soil, what’s the deal?

Most plants are happy with a neutral soil with a pH of 7-7.5 and commercial soils purchased from your local nursery come this way. Some plants need different soils because they demand different. Different nutrients become accessible to plants at different pH ranges, for example, gardenias like acidic soils and will yellow their leaves if the soil is too alkaline.

If you want to adjust the pH balance, you can pick up a soil testing kit from just about any nursery, then add lime to make it more alkaline, or aluminium sulphate or sulphur to make it more acidic.

What’s the difference between cheap potting mix and the expensive stuff?

Commercial soils have been man-made full of nutrients and treated for disease, so they’re ready to go for almost every plant. The only difference is that the expensive mix already contains fertiliser. The package should have a black or red tick, red means it contains fertiliser.

How often should we replace the soil for potted plants?

Over time, soil will break down as the plants suck all the nutrients out of it. Worm juice and fertiliser help keep soil healthy for longer. In most cases, soil can be rehabilitated when mixed with organic matter and compost.

What if I live in an apartment?

Get a worm farm so you can use worm juice to keep the soil healthy for as long as possible. When you do want to rotate the soil, use a large bucket or container with some organic matter in it (compost, worm juice), so you can re-enrich it. Don’t throw it away.

What about keeping soil covered?

Covering soil is a good idea in Australia’s hot climate. It helps keep the soil moist and healthy, protecting the microfauna that live in it. You want to avoid it cracking and getting really dry. Mulch, straw and decorative moss will all help keep soil healthier.

Got a question? Talk to an expert. Check our nursery finder to find your closest Plant Life Balance-accredited nursery.

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